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Westport Triathlete Finds Challenge in Boston

WESTPORT, Conn. – Westport’s Joe Pucci has wanted for years to support the Connecticut Challenge, an annual fundraising bike ride in July that benefits cancer survivorship programs, but it often conflicts with his triathlon schedule. The Boston Marathon will give him a unique opportunity to support this worthy cause.

Pucci, 44, will run his first marathon April 16 beginning in Hopkinton, Mass., and finishing in Boston to raise funds for the Connecticut Challenge . The triathlon is the race of choice for Pucci, a member of the Team Mossman Triathlon Club. Running in Boston for the charity was the next best option. People can support his fundraising efforts by donating online at his fundraising page.

“It just came together at the right time,’’ said Pucci, who found out in January about running for the Connecticut Challenge. “I’ve had this guilt for six or seven years about not being about to support it. This is the perfect way to do it.”

Pucci has extensive triathlon experience, including events in Greenwich, Norwalk, Bridgeport and New York City. In 2010, he competed in the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon in California and has run half-marathons and in the Boston Buildup Series. His most lengthy endurance test came in September 2010, when he competed in the Toughman Half Ironman – a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and 13.1-mile run.

Though all are noteworthy accomplishments, he realizes the Boston race will be a test of endurance different from anything he has experienced.

“Right now, the goal is to finish healthy, then to finish running," Pucci said. "I’m training for a 3:30 goal, so we’ll see how it goes.”

The Connecticut Challenge has provided a trainer, Jean Paul Desrosiers from Sherpa Training, who has created a weekly plan for him. Although many of the basic principles are the same, Pucci has found daily runs more demanding physically than the alternate workouts associated with triathlons. “A huge difference is running six days a week,’’ Pucci said. “With a triathlon I do a lot more riding. Mentally not having that variety is hard. Plus it’s hard on the legs.”

Pucci also has to raise $5,000 for the challenge. “Between the fundraising and the training, I feel like I’ve taken on a part-time job,’’ he said. It is challenging to balance training with family obligations and a demanding career as a financial adviser with Bernstein Global Wealth Management.

Pucci grew up in Denver and moved to Fairfield County in 1990, settling in Westport in 1996. He and his wife Dara Lieberson have two children in Coleytown Middle School, and he serves on boards of several community agencies, including the Westport Public Library, the Westport Arts Center and the Connecticut Food Bank.

He hopes his marathon experience will be worth it when he crosses the finish line. Pucci has heard stories about what makes the Boston Marathon special and is eager to participate. “I’m looking forward to the whole Wellesley (College) thing, where the college students cheer you on and you get a lot of support. Support like that can get you going for the next few miles. I get a lot of energy out of encouragement like that.”

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